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Coaching basketball is an unpaid sideline of mine. I’ve spent a lot of time teaching the basics of the game to junior high and high school players. I’ve also learned a lot from the process — such as the importance of clear communication.
A few years ago, another coach and I were asked to work together to coach a team of freshman boys. We’d never coached together before, but each of us had worked with different groups of the players when they were in junior high.
At one of our first practices, we were trying to teach the players a secondary break offense we’d agreed that we wanted to run. It wasn’t going well. The players leading the break were confused about what they were supposed to do after they’d passed the ball into the post — despite the very clear instruction from their very accomplished coaches to make a shuffle cut.
After most of a wasted practice, we two very accomplished coaches — henceforth known as “Dumb” and Dumber” - figured it out: My shuffle cut was different than his. The players who had learned it from me ran it one way. The players who learned it from him ran it the other.
Things went much more smoothly after that — and before our next practice we reviewed our coaching vocabularies and agreed on common definitions we’d use. We looked a lot smarter — and our players benefited.
So what does that have to do with…